Pt 1 – What’s the difference between Coaching & Mentoring?


Over the last two years my view on the transformative power that great coaching or mentoring can have on you: as an individual and your business; has dramatically changed.

The impact of this has led to me training to be a CMI authorised Executive and Business Coach. And Executive and Leadership Coaching being one of the fastest-growing solution areas that the Rencai Group offer SMB business leaders.

Over the next few blogs I’s like to share more about my own personal journey in this area while sharing more about the principles of Coaching & Mentoring.  Considering how it can add value for both business leaders and all of their colleagues in the companies they run, through impacting some of the consistent challenges and ‘blockers to success’ that all SMB businesses face.

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What is the difference between Coaching & Mentoring?


A good starting point to answer this question is to consider some of the widely acknowledged ‘definitions’ for Coaching and Mentoring respectively.



Coaching as defined by the oxford English dictionary.


coaching – noun

– the process of training somebody to play a sport, to do a job better or to improve a skill


– the process of giving a student extra teaching in a particular subject



We are all likely aware of the term coach based on our reference point of sports coaches. Ask 5 different people however what a sports coach is responsible for,  would likely lead to some confusion around what that does and does not, involve.  With some unintended cross-over with the roles of Coaches, Managers, and Trainers.


This opportunity for the misalignment of understanding what a coach does exists in the business context also.



And considering the definitions above, those working as business coaching professionals also have differing views on the role (and value) of a coach when applied in the business context.

Looking and the three different interpretations below you may find one resonates with you more?

Downey, 2003, Effective Coaching

Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Whitmore 1992, Coaching For Performance.

A collaborative, solution focused, result-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and person growth of the coachee.

The International Coaching Federation.

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.



For me the ICF interpretation resonates strongly with me based on both its clarity and simplicity.

When working as a coach this is exactly the role I want to perform and the value I want to provide for each business leader I support.


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The role of a mentor as defined by the Oxford English dictionary.


Mentor  – noun

‘an experienced person who advises and helps somebody with less experience over a period of time.’


Again if we consider the Oxford English definition,  in my opinion this undersells the transformative value that a good mentor can have on somebody when considering their professional development.


With a little research, you’ll find many differing and more developed views on what a Mentor is.  I think the ones summarised by Andrew Gibbons, in his article for the Training Journal in 2017* are very thorough:


“Mentoring is a protected relationship in which learning and experimentation can occur, potential skills can be developed, and in which results can be measured in terms of competencies gained”. – Audrey Collin

Mentoring is “A mutual relationship with an intentional agenda designed to convey specific content along with life wisdom from one individual to another. Mentoring does not happen by accident, nor do its benefits come quickly. It is relationally based, but it is more than a good friendship…mentoring is not two people who just spend time together sharing”. – Thomas Addington and Stephen Graves

“Mentoring is a supportive learning relationship between a caring individual who shares knowledge, experience and wisdom with another individual who is ready and willing to benefit from this exchange, to enrich their professional journey”. – Suzanne Faure

“Mentoring is an important adult relationship since it creates a legitimate and special space where people can take chances by trying to be authentic about, and find meaning within their real-life professional experience” – D Doyon

“The purpose of mentoring is always to help the mentee to change something – to improve their performance, to develop their leadership qualities, to develop their partnership skills, to realise their vision, or whatever. This movement from where they are, (‘here’), to where they want to be (‘there’). – Mike Turner

“Mentoring involves primarily listening with empathy, sharing experience (usually mutually), professional friendship, developing insight through reflection, being a sounding board, encouraging” – David Clutterbuck

“Mentoring is an intense work relationship between senior and junior organisational members. The mentor has experience and power in the organisation, and personally advises, counsels, coaches and promotes the career development of the protégé”. – Anne Stockdale


Again to me, this highlights the range in opinions of what mentoring is and what a good mentor-mentee relationship may look like.


For me the Suzanne Faures, description is really powerful if the right match can be made between Mentor and Mentee.

“Mentoring is a supportive learning relationship between a caring individual who shares knowledge, experience and wisdom with another individual who is ready and willing to benefit from this exchange, to enrich their professional journey”


Mike Turners, description has a lot in common with widely acknowledged description of a coach…


This diversity in interpretation,  often leads to confusion on how coaching and mentoring are introduced and delivered within companies. I think this massively undermines the positive transformative impact that both of these different approaches can have on an individual or an entire business.


For me if any business is going to maximise the benefit they get from adopting either a Coaching or Mentoring approach, clarity of what each approach means is key. And the consistency of the application is critical, ensuring the experience for ALL employees is aligned.


I hope this Part1, of a multi-part series on how a trusted Coach can help SMB business owners, has provided food-for-thought on how you consider the use of Coaching and Mentoring, and how you might have experienced it personally.


In Part 2 I’ll reflect more about my personal experience in this area, the good and the bad, and what I now feel the foundations are for being an effective Coach or Mentor.


Should you be interested to learn more about how coaching could help you personally or people within your business I’d be very happy to chat. You can reach me on:

[email protected]

0161 222 3142

 or reach out to the team here to schedule an introduction